IEEE President’s Forum: Addressing Membership Issues Head-on

IEEE President’s Forum: Addressing Membership Issues Head-on

Is IEEE sinking? IEEE membership in the United States has been on a declining trend for the past several years. Does this suggest that IEEE is losing its relevance? Can this trend be reversed? Volunteer leaders in Northern Colorado have stepped up to the plate to create actions that would reverse this trend. IEEE, now in its 134th year, has enabled its members to drive technological developments making the world better for all mankind. We now face a number of challenges to continue to provide publications, standards and other services that help our members succeed in their professional careers. Now is a great time for the members, many of whom volunteer countless hours, to help shape the direction of the organization.

On 27 September, IEEE will host a President’s Forum to give IEEE’s leaders an opportunity hear directly from members about their opinions and concerns about IEEE membership. The forum is designed to bring IEEE senior leadership and members together in a venue where members can ask questions and have a two-way conversation with IEEE leaders.

The forum will be held from 6:00 to 9:00 pm MDT, at the Colorado State University Alumni Center. Jim Jefferies, 2018 IEEE President and CEO and José Moura, 2019 IEEE President-elect, will speak that evening. IEEE Executive Director Steve Welby will also attend the event. People can attend in-person or participate online, and the entire event will be streamed on IEEEtv and Facebook. Questions and comments can be electronically submitted and answered live by Jefferies, Moura, and Welby.

The reception for this unprecedented opportunity has been remarkable. IEEE groups across the United States are organizing “watch parties,” where their local September meeting has been replaced with this teleconference. Bob Case, Chair of the Black Hills Section has this to say about their plans:

“The Black Hills Subsection is planning a professional meeting during the September 27th Presidents Forum. The meeting will allow us to collectively view the live stream of the forum and get some immediate reaction from our members.  Over the summer, leading up to the forum, our subsection executive committee will be priming the pump by sharing the link and soliciting potential questions for the IEEE presidents in advance.  Our belief is that waiting until the forum date to consider questions is too late.  Hopefully, by leveraging the forum as another way to learn what’s on members’ minds, we will be able to submit meaningful questions that will provide valuable insights to the IEEE presidents.”

We encourage all IEEE groups to follow the Black Hills Section plan and form their own gatherings the day of the forum. We also need help getting the word out to all interested people as the opinions of our members and past members are valuable in shaping our organization’s future. This event is a great opportunity to demonstrate that IEEE is an organization that is worth belonging to.

More information is available at the website:, which will updated as additional information is available. Whether you plan to attend or not, or just want to provide a question or comment, please take our short anonymous survey at:

Richard Toftness is an IEEE life member who lives in Loveland, Colorado. After working for Hewett Packard for 27 years, Motorola, Control Data and several startups, Richard formed his own consulting firm, Tasterra LLC. Along with managing Tasterra, Richard and his wife enjoy the Rocky Mountain region and keep busy as volunteers at several organizations. Richard can be contacted at

Leave a Reply